Monday, July 30, 2007

I've been putting off writing this latest entry, hoping that what happened last Thursday really didn't, hoping that it was just some bad joke.

It wasn't.

Along the road that is the journey of life, you meet certain people you never forget. Some people you remember because of who they are, or what they did or how they impacted your life. Someone once told me, you'll be lucky to find five people in your time on earth who'd be like that. I'm not sure if Skip Prosser was one of those five. But I know I'll never forget him.

Prosser, as I'm sure you're well aware of by now, died too suddenly and too soon last week. He was 56 when his heart gave out on him. His resume says he was a basketball coach. He was more than than.

Prosser had been at Wake Forest the last six years. But I knew him first, as an assistant coach at Xavier under Pete Gillen, later as the head coach of the Musketeers. He was a man who could quote Wooden in one sentence, Thoreau in another. And he always knew something about who he was talking with.

Prosser loved to needle me about Ohio University. He knew I bleed hunter green. It wasn't anything big, things like 'tell those guys in Athens to stop ducking Xavier' or 'you know your Bobcats have no shot against Miami'. It was his way of letting you know he knew what was important in your life. It wasn't just me. He was like that with everyone, if you listen to some of the testimony about him since his death.

The world we live in is filled with bad things and a lot of bad people. There aren't enough good people in our world. And we just lost one.

I know where Skip Prosser is tonight. I just wish he was in the world I live in.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

On the eve of reporting to training camp, the Bengals still don't know if they'll have Odell Thuram this season. He's still waiting to hear whether or not commissioner Roger Goodell will reinstate him from a year long suspension. The betting here is, Thurman will hear soon. And the betting is it'll be good news. But it's my feeling that the Michael Vick fiasco is holding up a lot of business at the NFL office these days. And Goodell is going to go the extra mile with Thurman and anyone else who's sitting out to take sure there are no 'bad news bombs' waiting to drop on his league.

Meantime, the Bengals are chipper about their chances this season. At their annual pre training camp luncheon this week, Marvin Lewis told me he expects his team to be better this season than last. What else can he say, right? I see nothing yet that will make me believe the Bengals defense is any better this year than last. They still have a lot of questions in their secondary. And the defensive lineman they've brought in seem pedestrian. But it's not always great talent that wins championships. It's usually good talent playing together.

Offensively, this team is 'as billed'. There should be no drop off from last year. And honestly, with Chris Henry suspended for the first eight games, it may give rookie Kenny Irons a real opportunity to show his stuff.

It's too early for a prediction. I'll save that, for down the road.

We're six days from the MLB trading deadline and the Reds have yet to make a move. They may be in line for one after tonight. Kyle Lohse tossed a pretty fair game against the Brewers: 5.2 IP, 5 Hits and 2 Runs. Statistically, despite being 6-11, Lohse is one of the top pitchers available. I wouldn't be surprised to see him go by the end of the week.

And why Scott Hatteberg isn't in a Yankees uniform yet is amazing to me. Even if Jason Giambi is now playing his way back into shape, Hatteberg is one of the best left handed bats on the market. But internet buzz persists the Yankees may be more interested in the ageless Jeff Conine.

If you watched any of David Stern's one hour news conference Tuesday, you saw a man trying desperately to hide abject agony. He's trying to put a good spin on one of his referees who's been accused of point shaving and dealing inside information. But even Stern knows that if another ref or a player is caught being a part of this, he has a conspiracy to deal with. And if that happens, the NBA will be looked at as the WWE with a baskebtall. Stern says that Tim Donaghty is nothing more than a 'rogue'. For Stern's sake, he better hope that's all this is.

Check out my web site: There's a new Broo View Podcast to check out and a fresh Bengals Report on the horizon.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

I like the new head football coach at the University of Cincinnati, so I'm willing to give Brian Kelly a pass on this one. But he was either ill advised or wasn't thinking when he shot his mouth off at the annual Big East Conferecne football media day this week.

Kelly was upset that no local media from the greater Cincinnati area was on hand to participate in the day. He said, among other things, that the local media now has no credability when it comes to covering his team and chastised his predecessor, Mark Dantonio, for not being more agressive in getting the local radio, TV and newspaper folks to this annual event when he coached the Bearcats.

Two thoughts on all of this. One, win some games before you start telling people how to do their jobs. Two, never pick your battles with someone who buys his ink by the barrel.

Cincinnati is a lot of things. It's a great place to live, outstanding city to raise a family and offers great amenities, even sports. One thing Cincinnati has never been, at least in the 20 odd years I've called it home, is worldly in its politics or its taste in sports. It is a very parochial town, with the majority of its interests lying inside the I-275 beltway. We have a lot of interest in what happens with UC athletics and are anxious to see what the new coach does with the football team. We have little interest in what the other seven Big East football coaches have to say about their programs. When it comes time for them to play UC, we'll probably have some interest. But the majority of our intrique will come from what Kelly and his team will do that week.

Let me put it another way. You could put West Virginia University football coach, Rich Rodriguez on Fountain Square at high noon any day of the year and no one would know him from some 'suit' who works at P&G.

Of the eight cities that field Big East football teams, only one sent television crews to the conference media day. Both were from the Connecticut market. By the way, I got everything I needed from my network, NBC, which provided a feed to every one of its affililates across the country.

So I had no interest in sending a crew, nor asking for my news director to send a crew, to Newport, Rhode Island, for two days of schmoozing with coaches no one in my town really cares about. That would be approximately $1,500.00 that will be better spent on something else, maybe when UC goes to a bowl game this winter.

Cincinnati is first and foremost interested in Reds baseball, Bengals football, high school football and then whichever other sport may be in season. You can get angry with me saying that. But when you're done doing that, you'll still have the same situation I just described.

I anticipate covering UC football like a blanket this season. I'm geeked about what Brian Kelly brings to the table. But the new coach needs to worry about his job. I'll worry about mine

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

NFL training camps open up in a week. I'm sitting here wondering why I should believe the Cincinnati Bengals will be any better than 8-8. In three of the four years Marvin Lewis has coached this team, that's exactly what they've been. And while back in the '90's, 8-8 would've ben cause for a downtown parade, right now, fans in this town are expecting more, a lot more.

But the offense is basically the same as last year, without Chris Henry for the first eight games of the season. That offense has proven it can score points. But can it score enough points with the defense the Bengals will field.

There's the problem. The Bengals did nothing to appreciably upgrade their defense from last season. Sure, they've got a promising young cornerback in Leon Hall, their first round draft pick. But what else do they have that's different than last season. They've brought in a couple of journeyman defensive linemen. And they misplayed the Justin Smith scenario, badly.

Smith played out his contract in 2006. Rather than sign him to a long term deal before last season (or during, for that matter), the Bengals elected to let the contract run its course and slap a franchise tag on Smith, holding onto him for 2007 by paying Smith the average salary of the top five defensive linemen in the NFL. Amazingly, they chose to do this just two weeks before the start of the 2007 free agent period. By tying up $8.2 million in salary to keep Smith, rather than signing him long term and pro rating the bonus money, the Bengals were unable to make a run at the most desirable free agent on the market, linebacker Adalius Thomas. Somehow, the Patriots figured out how to pursue this difference maker. The Bengals didn't.

So here we sit, a week before camp opens. And I'm looking for anything that will make me believe this team is any better than it was last year. You got any ideas? I'd love to hear them.

The latest Broo View Podcast has just been posted. You can find it on my web site: Just click on the 'Podcasts and More' section to find it.

Monday, July 16, 2007

My guess is, the Reds keep Adam Dunn for the rest of this season. If they trade him, they'll do that after exercising his $13 million dollar option for 2008. And even at that, $13 million for a power hitting, if strike out challenged, outfielder will be a bargain.

I could be wrong. My sense is Reds owner, Bob Castellini doesn't want to blow up his current team and subject his city to another rebuilding plan. Whichever way it goes, we saw something Sunday why sluggers like Dunn don't come around these parts often.

Sunday, against the Mets, Dunn hit one of the longest and most damaging home runs in Shea Stadium history. His 5th inning blast hit about 40 feet up on the scoreboard in right centerfield, hitting the board so hard, he knocked out a half dozen lights. It was reminiscent of the scene in the movie "The Natural", when Roy Hobbs hit a ball that blasted apart part of a light tower. Art imitating life.

Those are the kinds of things that sell tickets. And fielding the team with the second worst record in Major League Baseball, Castellini needs to sell ticket. I know, it's always easy to spend someone else's money. But why would the Reds' owner want to deal away a box office attraction for a couple of players who may never get a whiff of Great American Ball Park. Because with the way Dunn's contract is structured, that would surely be all Castellini would get.

Check out my web site I've got a lot of cool audio to listen to and tomorrow, Tuesday, I'll have the latest edition of The Broo View Podcast posted.

Monday, July 09, 2007

When you think about the size of Cincinnati and the enormity of the Tennis Masters Series, it makes no sense. It borders on the absurd that a tournament this big could be help in a market so small.

But it's become one of the biggest sports events every year in Cincinnati and one of the biggest tournaments in international tennis. This year, every one of the top 42 players in the world will descend on the Queen City, beginning August 11th. And for the next eight days, the stars you see every year at Wimbledon and the US Open will smack the ball around in the shadow of Kings Island.

For this tradition, you can thank one man: Paul Flory. He is mister tennis in Cincinnati, and the chairman of this stop in the Tennis Masters series. Shephard would be a better moniker for Flory, who's guided this tournament through it's rapid growth and through uncertain times. His latest coup, was the sale of the Tennis Center facility, second only in class to Forest Hills where the Open is played every year, from Carl Lindner to the city of Mason. That sale ensured the tournament stability for decades.

Next month, for eight days, Cincinnati and its surrounding area will be showcased world wide. The benefits of that will be measured in tourist dollars, down the road. The finale on Sunday August 19th could offer us a Wimbledon rematch, as Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will surely be on opposites sides of the draw. Along the way, we'll get to see Andy Roddick, James Blake, Tommy Haas and every other major tennis star in the universe. All of this, in the 33rd television market.

The numbers don't add up, but they don't have to. We have Paul Flory, whose vision for this tournament has been crystal clear since it arrived here 30 years ago. Cincinnati has hosted championship tennis for over a century. But it's only since Flory's arrived, that it's blossomed.

Thank you Paul.

Friday, July 06, 2007

As we cruise into the weekend, just a thought about Reds pitcher Kyle Lohse, maybe the most infuriating pitcher on the entire staff. He was absolutely 'aces' Friday night, taking a one hitter into the 9th inning before settling for an 8-1 win over the Diamondbacks. It was a complete game win. But look at his record. Lohse is only 5-10 on this season.

That's because, Lohse has been nothing but inconsistent. One game, like Friday, he pitches like a 'number one' on a staff. The next time out, he'll pitch like he belongs in "A" ball. Lohse is making $4 million this season. He's free agent eligible, which means even with a below '500' record, he'll be in line for a pay raise. The Reds can afford to pay a pitcher in the $6 million range, they're already doing that with Bronson Arroyo and Aaron Harang. But they can't afford to do it with Lohse. Inconsistent is something the Reds must put in their wake, on the road to becoming a contender.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Here's your chance to play Reds owner. You are now free to spend Bob Castellini's money, without retribution. Whom would you like for your new manager?

Would you go to the Yankees and try to pry Joe Girardi from the broadcast booth? Or to Chicago and do the same with current Cubs broadcaster, Bob Brenly. Do you wait until the end of the season and hope the Yankees part ways with Joe Torre? Maybe the Cardinals will do the same with Tony LaRussa. You know that Castellini covets anyone with that St. Louis franchise.

Any one of those candidates will cost you between $2-5 million dollars. You might get Girardi for less, it might cost you more for LaRussa.

My choice? It'd be Bob Brenly. OK, enough with the Ohio University stuff. I'd like this guy managing the Reds even if he wasn't a fellow Bobcat. I think he's patient (he stuck with Tony Womack as his lead off hitter for three years in Arizona even though Womack's OBP was bad) and he's a winner. The Diamondbacks contended every year he was there and won it all in 2001. And, Brenly is from Ohio. He even lived in Cincinnati for a year, before taking the manager's gig in Phoenix.

Torre would be nice, in the fact that he brings a pedigree second to none. And, his wife's family lives in Cincinnati, another nice connection. I seriously doubt LaRussa would leave the Cardinals. They'd be nuts to let him walk. And as for Girardi, he'd be the tough no nonsense guy a lot of these current Reds need. But despite winning the NL manager of the year award with the Marlins, he had a celebrated blow up with his owner that ultimately cost him his job. But still, he's a winner.

This short list is impressive. But I'm still touting Brenly. I know he's interested. I hope the Reds are too.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Almost from the start of this season, Jerry Narron was doomed. His 'every day 8' was chock full of free swingers who could not hit for aveage, his number two starter was slow out of the gate and slower as the season began and his bullpen was atrocious.

And worse, expectations were high. The Reds finished just three and a half games behind the Cardinals last season, carrying the pennant race into the final two weeks of the season. As the Reds GM, Wayne Krivsky, told me today there was no one in the organization who saw the 'bummer of '07 coming. Narron certainly didn't. After losing his job late Sunday night, he'll have a long time to reflect on what might have been this season.

What if his bullpen had featured a legitimate closer in Eddie Guardado? The lefty arrived from Seattle with a bad arm that needed surgery late last summer. But in the off season, the Reds did nothing to address the most key component of any bullpen. You build a pen from the back. Without a legit closer, set up pitchers like David Weathers and Mike Stanton had to close. And while Weathers did well in that role, it left his normal spot, set up, to middle relievers. Long relievers had to middle relieve. In essence, every pitcher was out of position in the bullpen. And with Gary Majewski still sore-armed from last summer and Billy Bray hurt in spring training, the Reds bullpen became a real liability, losing more games than any pen in major league baseball this season.

Bronson Arroyo was the 'steal' of 2006. When Krivsky swung a deal to get Arroyo here for Wily Mo Pena, and when Arroyo performed like a stud, the Reds suspect rotation became, over night, strong. But Arroyo was slow out of the gate and, in back to back games, tossed in excess of 120-pitches. Narron was forced to keep Arroyo in close games longer than he'd like, because his bullpen was abysmal. Arroyo paid the price with a tired arm.

Which brings us to the free swingers. The Reds 'every day 8' never saw a pitch they didn't think they could jack out of the park. 2-1 counts, 3-0, 0-2, 2-2, it didn't matter. The Reds would swing for the fences. They led the National League in home runs when Narron was fired Sunday. But hits with runners in scoring position, advancing the base runner, bunting and sacrifice flies were as rare in Cincinnati as low humidity in July.

It all caught up with Narron on Sunday. And a very good and decent baseball man is out of work. Don't cry for Narron. His contract runs through the 200 season and he'll collect evey nickel of the approximately $750,000 he has coming.

But the franchise he leaves behind remains in shambles, covered with the finger prints of three general managers, two owners and now four fired managers in less than seven seasons. The Reds farm system has yet to recover from the atrophy it fell into under owner Marge Schott, who held scouts in disdain. It's yet to recover from her general manager, Jim Bowden, who never met an over age free agent he didn't fall in love with. It's yet to recover from general manager, Dan O'Brien who understood how important rebuilding the minor league system was, but did it at the expense of making prudent major league roster adjustments.

Jerry Narron was fired Sunday. But he may be the lucky one in this equation. He doesn't have to clean up the mess he was handed.